Friday, May 21, 2010

Finance Bill, Musharraf Returns, Jan Brewer Rewrites The Barney Song

Paul Krugman
Ruth Marcus
Eugene Robinson

"Despite a chorus of voices claiming otherwise, we aren’t Greece. We are, however, looking more and more like Japan." - Paul Krugman
"In understanding the foibles of politicians, I've always found it is a benefit to have spent large amounts of time with toddlers. Me! Me! Me!" - Ruth Marcus
"If he wins the general election, Rand Paul would probably vote sometimes with the Republicans, sometimes with the Democrats and sometimes with the Whigs." - Eugene Robinson

It's fun Friday, I spent the morning down at the courthouse and paid a fine I owed from a previous negotiation with the DA's office. The choice I had to make was either go to jail or end up in the hospital; I chose not to go to jail again, using the money I had for my diabetic and heart medicine to pay the fine. But I also scored a pound of freshly roasted Kenyan AA coffee, and I've had two cups so far and enjoying a caffeine buzz...Good reading in the links to opinions above, Eugene Robinson has a good analysis of the recent primaries and what we can look forward to in the months ahead.

The finance reform bill passed the Senate, and we won't know what it will contain until this version gets reconciled with the one that passed the House. Obama has been taking more hands-on approach. The nay-sayers already have been writing what a bad, ineffective bill it is, but it is there to establish two things: to make sure that big banks won't fail and have to bailed out again, and to establish a consumer's credit protection agency that can fine guilty parties. Derivatives will now have to be listed and traded on a list just like stocks and bonds are, and institutions that trade in these will have to have enough collateral to cover themselves if the derivatives collapse. There will be more, but these two items are what the financial industry has been lobbying against, because they make tons more money in the grey areas. A lot of the finance bill would have been unnecessary if the regulators had done their jobs, for example, by classifying credit default swaps as insurance, which gives them an area with established rules that provides for oversight...

Part of the basic problem is the trader culture and what Wall Street has become transformed into that allows companies like Goldman Sachs to embraced and profit from the grey areas: "... potential conflicts inherent in Wall Street’s business model are at the core of many of the investigations that state and federal authorities are conducting... they have raised concerns among investors and analysts about the extent to which a variety of Wall Street firms put their own interests ahead of their clients’.

“Now it’s all about the score. Just make the score, do the deal. Move on to the next one. That’s the trader culture,” said Cornelius Hurley, director of the Morin Center for Banking and Financial Law at Boston University and former counsel to the Federal Reserve Board. “Their business model has completely blurred the difference between executing trades on behalf of customers versus executing trades for themselves. It’s a huge problem.”

"While Goldman has legions of satisfied customers and maintains that it puts its clients first, it also sometimes appears to work against the interests of those same clients when opportunities to make trading profits off their financial troubles arise. Goldman’s access to client information can also give its traders an advantage that many of the firm’s competitors lack. And because betting against a company’s shares or its debt can create an atmosphere of doubt about a company’s financial standing, Goldman because of its size and its position in the market can help make the success of some of its wagers faits accomplis."

The nay-sayers complain that this is the perfect example of government expanding its role to intrude into our lives. Dude, that already happened so long ago, where have you been for the past 50 years? The debate should be, do you want a government that is responsive to its citizens needs and will it help protect them from dishonesty? Your free market economy model has just proven that it doesn't work, people's greed and predatory practices have brought about a world economic crisis, and Europe is currently battling to stay afloat, and the stock market is on a roller coaster ride, climbing and dipping at dangerous levels. Yet, the nattering nabobs of negativity will continue to bleat their same chorus over and over, without stopping to listen or smell the coffee...

Hillary Clinton is visiting China, which makes me wonder id they have planned any tours of schools and colleges on her itinerary. Maybe those horrible attacks on Chinese school children were dress rehearsals for her visit... Ok, that was cruel, but don't expect results that will inspire an opera along the lines of Nixon in China. But she did bring Pepsico along with her, who announced that they will spend $2.5 billion to build 19 new bottling plants... Even more perverse, is the fact that Pervez Musharraf who is tired of roving between Great Britain and the US, is planning to move back to his beloved Pakistan, where the happiest moments of his life were when he was a dictator. He wants to enter back into politics and run again for either President or Prime Minister. There may be complications, such as he could be put in jail and brought to trail: "The Supreme Court, headed by the chief justice Musharraf tried to dismiss, has declared his 2007 imposition of emergency rule unconstitutional, which could be a basis for actions against him.

Polls show that Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister Musharraf ousted in 1999, is Pakistan's most popular politician and he too has called for Musharraf to be put on trial." And, in a country that thrives on intrigue and conspiracy theories, I'm sure that if he survives his trials, he may not survive his tribulations, as there certainly would be more assassination attempts on his life, seen as retribution for the death of Benazir Bhutto... Consider this move a modern version of Whack-A-Mole...

Quips from some Israeli blogs that publish in Haaretz:

  • Saying Israel is progressive and creative doesn't work when its politicians focus on victimhood and aggression.
  • No one knows fascism better than Israelis.
  • The fierce debate provoked by the new Arizona immigration law is reminiscent of the debate in Israel over how to deal with foreign workers.
And, while the citizens of Israel are squabbling over the canceled tour by Elvis Costello, Hezbollah is puffing up its feathers and strutting, warning that they must militarize over the threat of an expected Israeli incursion. This is because there have been more rockets being launched into Israel from Lebanon.

welcome to american politics rand paul!
His first two interviews with the media didn't go very well, he got held up to ridicule for looking like a racist from Kentucky. He was asked if he supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act as an example of government mandating public behavior. Because the Libertarian philosophy doesn't believe in government intrusions into personal liberties, Rand responded that he didn't agree with the 10th section. That section says that all businesses that cater to the public shall not discriminate within their places of businesses. He was later asked about it on the Rachel Maddow show, and he hedged around, trying to not answer the question directly. He got slammed in the media, who were having fun pouncing upon him, giving him a hint that he may not be ready for the big leagues. So far, his Daddy has not come to the rescue, and Rand has canceled the last two scheduled meetings with the media because he is exhausted, worn out, beat up, bruised ego, and sore from holding his foot in his mouth for so long...

kermit rolls over in his sock drawer...
TPM reports this item that's so weird, at first I thought that it was fake, but no, it's oh, so real. Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer's office released a video with the Blond Govshell in dialogue with a singing frog puppet. Perhaps she thinks this will get her more votes than a demon sheep commercial, and she uses the puppet as her foil against the federal government and pro arguments for the anti-immigration set of bills: "The video, titled "Arizona Sing-A-Long: Read Immigration Law!" features a Kermit-esque puppet who sings that "reading helps you know what you're talking about...," before showing clips of Obama Administration officials such as Janet Napolitano and Eric Holder admitting that they haven't actually read the bill.

"Seriously?", faux-Kermit asks."

I hate you, You hate me
We're one big family
With a great big hug
And kiss my ass to you
Why won't you allow me in your school?

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